Reference Page: February 2011

Quick-Fix Urbanism
One of the wildest examples of the new airport-centered cities described by Greg Lindsay in his and John D. Kasarda’s book, Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next, is New Songdo City, in South Korea. When it’s completed in 2015, it will be the largest private real-estate development in history and, according to http://www.songdo.com, will boast “the wide boulevards of Paris,” “a 100-acre Central Park reminiscent of New York City,” and “a modern canal system inspired by Venice.” To see what this grandiose mix of inspirations actually looks like, go to the Kohn Pedersen Fox Web site: http://www.kpf.com/project.asp?R=2&ID=9.

A Leg Up
New York has become a “luxury city” with gaping income inequalities, “a place for the masters and their servants,” according to Joel Kotkin. But the latest census data point to an island of middle-class stability in the five boroughs: the neighborhood of East Elmhurst, just below La Guardia Airport, in Queens. It is one of those rare New York enclaves with families that have lived in the same houses for over 30 years. Indeed, the median move-in date for East Elmhurst homeowners was 1974, an aberration in a city where in ten years neighborhoods can go from dicey to overpriced: www.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/nyregion/08elmhurst.html.

Smart Environments Awards: Roseville Branch Library
Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (www.msrltd.com) specializes in public libraries, which have become wildly popular since the financial meltdown of 2008. And it’s not just for the books. The unemployed rely on libraries for free Internet access and job workshops. Increasingly, there are services for the homeless too. In San Francisco, a social worker is present full time to refer people to social-service agencies. There are also cultural events for the homeless, such as special book clubs in North Carolina and movie nights in Florida. But some patrons have started complaining about the “vagrants” gathering in front of the libraries: www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-12-13-libraries13_ST_N.htm.

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